Monday, July 23, 2018

Cousin Solomon Prewitt on Wildlife around Alton Illinois in the early 1800s

 There were some elk here when we came. My brother and I killed a four-snag elk above Alton, where Major Long now lives, (n. e. sec. 33, 6-10,) with horns four feet long. There were plenty of them on the Okaw. There were no Buffaloes, but we used to find their horns perfectly sound. A Frenchman named St. John showed me the place once where he saw the Indians kill seven buffalo on the Okaw. Deer were abundant; I have killed five in a day. Panthers were plenty; I killed two once on Pad dock's Creek. They had killed a deer and covered it up with leaves and trash. I noticed the female had been suckling, and looking about found a young one that had climbed up a small tree, caught it and brought it home. I killed another near Wiley Prewitt's; and two, an old and young one above Starkey's. Wildcats would come and catch chickens in open daylight. I shot two as they were watching at hollow logs for rabbits. There were two kinds, the larger which we called catamounts was the most troublesome. Foxes also were troublesome. I caught one once in a steel trap. We had Gray and Prairie Wolves, with occasionally a black or dark colored one. I caught thirteen in one pen, when it was burned up by the woods taking fire. I used sometimes to hamstring them and turn them out of the pen and set the dogs on them. Sometimes we used to get wolves into the prairie and run them down on horseback. There were a good many Otter on the creeks, and a few now. There were Beaver and a beaver dam on Wood River. They would cut down cottonwood trees six inches in diameter. 

       Paroquets (Carolina Parrot) used to live in hollow trees on Indian

Creek. I have seen a dozen come out of one tree in a winter morning.

They fed on cockleburs and used to crack small hichory nuts with their

bills; sometimes they ate the apples. They were greenish yellow, and a

handsome bird. There were Eagles here formerly, but I have seen none

for years. Also Ravens: they were larger and blacker than our common

Crow. Robins and Pheasants have come in since settlement. Several

flocks of Pheasants were raised around me, and I tried to save them, but

the hunters I think have killed them all off. Waterfowl used to be very

abundant. I think I have seen as many as ten thousand a day flying

north in the spring.

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